Tag Archives: pregnancy

Bean Becomes a Little Man: A Belated Birth Story

How can I update this blog weekly on my pregnancy and go more than an entire month without even telling you that Bean was born? Oh, that’s right — diapers, breastfeeding, nap attempts, sleepless nights, and trying to squeeze a shower in there somewhere. Well, here’s Bean’s birth story, once and for all.

Little D was born at 8:27 a.m. on February 2, one day before his due date. He was 7 pounds even and 20.5 inches and healthy as can be — so the gestational diabetes apparently didn’t do any sort of number on him. After weeks of wishing and hoping and worrying and waiting, he came rather abruptly (at least compared with what I was afraid of — a long, protracted birth followed by an emergency c-section) and without too much fanfare.

I had been having some false labor for about a week before he arrived. The first couple of bouts, I knew it was nothing — it wasn’t timeable or terribly strong, just some cramping and general ickiness — but I kept hoping it would turn into something. My mucus plug had fallen out at 35 weeks, and I’d been having lots of discharge since, so I was paranoid that I wouldn’t be able to tell when my water broke. I’d also been having cramps, so I was paranoid I wouldn’t be able to tell a contraction from a cramp. All I could do was time my cramps and see if that told me anything. At 39w3d, I was having timeable cramps 10 minutes apart for an hour while at work, then they went away. They came back later that evening — not strong or really even very painful — 10 minutes apart, then went away.
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My last belly shot, 2 days before I went into labor.
At my doctor’s appointment the next day, I mentioned the regularity of the cramping and how crappy in general I had been feeling. To be honest, I was hoping he’d do something to speed things along, so I tried to look as dejected and exhausted as possibly — which wasn’t too much of a stretch. We had a biophysical profile ultrasound to check on the baby’s size and development, and everything looked fine, as usual. The doctor said he was hoping I would give birth sooner rather than later because of the diabetes. I had an induction date scheduled for the day after I turned 41 weeks, but after he examined me, he reported I was 2 cm and almost completely effaced, so he didn’t expect me to last that long. He also stripped my membranes, which was so, so painful. I bled quite a bit that day and had some strong cramps, but nothing regular, and by that evening, it had subsided.

That was also my surprise last day at work. My boss had told me earlier that week that, while Friday was supposed to be my last day before maternity leave, she wanted me to go a couple of days early to rest. I stayed for the lunch they had brought in, and went home for a really uneventful day. I was exhausted, so I napped in the afternoon, then for five hours at night before turning in for good  — my body must have sensed I’d need the rest. But otherwise, I didn’t feel like any progress was being made.

The next day (Friday February 1, two days before my due date), I felt discouraged because I’d had no timeable cramps or any other labor signs since the membrane sweep. I knew I was still two days away from my due date, but I was so consumed with the birth and so physically miserable that I was psyching myself out — and, I worried further, not relaxing enough for labor and potentially stressing the baby out.

My husband and I went for a walk around the block that afternoon, and then I napped a bit before we went out to dinner with my father-in-law, who’d come into town a few days earlier. I ordered the spiciest things I could on the menu in the hopes of jump starting something — I wanted to try all the tricks in the book. I’d also taken a warm bath earlier that day to try to force my body to relax.

When we got home that night, I complained some more about how much I wanted to go into labor right then and there, and how sick of pregnancy I was. Finally, I took the longest, hottest shower ever, just letting the water run over my back, and meditated and concentrated on the things in my life I was grateful for and the hopes I had for our unborn son. I tried to let go as much as I could and just enjoy the shower and the uninterrupted time with Mister Mister before Bean made his appearance.

After getting out of the shower, I put on underwear and a tank top and started to get into bed — that’s when I felt a pop and suddenly had what I thought was the strongest cramp known to man. I also let what I thought was a tremendous amount of discharge go into my underwear. I had to brace myself against the wall until the “cramp” passed. My husband popped up and asked, “What is it? A cramp?” I nodded, and then, when it passed, I sat on the toilet to check my underwear — which looked as if it had been soaked through with water, not discharge. And then I was leaking water into the toilet — not peeing. I looked up at my husband and said, “I think my water just broke!” He got nervous, I started laughing uncontrollably, he said, “Are you sure??”, and I stood up only to let a huge gush of clear liquid onto the floor with every laugh.

OK, so I think I know the difference between water breaking and discharge leaking.

I cleaned myself up, put on fresh underwear with a pad, and called the doctor’s answering service like they’d requested, just to tell them I was headed to the hospital because I thought my water had broken. We crazily packed up the rest of our hospital bag, all nerves and excitement tinged with a bit of fear and vague worry. Mister Mister called his dad to come over and watch the dog overnight, and then I sat on the couch and was treated to what I now know was my second true contraction, exactly 10 minutes after the first one. It was sickening, wrapped hard from my back to my front, and gripped me tight for up to a minute. For the next hour, I walked, I leaned against a wall, I had my husband press against my back. I tried getting on my hands and knees and bouncing on the yoga ball. Nothing pulled me through them except the breathing I learned in birthing class.

Well, I now know the difference between a cramp and a contraction.

By the time Mister Mister’s dad arrived an hour later, the contractions were  five minutes apart. By the time we got to the hospital, 10 minutes away, they were two minutes apart. They just kept crashing over me; I felt like I couldn’t breathe. It was 11 p.m.

>We checked in, they did a cervical check in triage, and I thrashed around on the bed and begged her to finish quickly.It was the longest minute or so of my life. “It hurts so bad!” I screamed. “That’s because you’re at 7 cm,” she said. Holy cow! My goal was to hit 5 cm before getting an epidural – this made that decision much easier. Two nurses arrived to set me up with an IV since I had requested an epidural and needed to be fully hydrated first. I had requested they tap a location that would be more convenient to breastfeeding than the inside of my elbow, but they had difficulties finding a good vein in my left hand and tried for a couple of minutes, digging around trying to catch a vein that kept moving and disappearing. It was sort of horrifying combined with the contractions, but they were finally able to get something on my right hand.

It’s funny how your priorities change in labor. I had been so afraid of the epidural because I wouldn’t be able to move around and I wanted freedom to labor in any position. Yet as they got ready to wheel me up to labor and deliver, they asked whether I wanted to walk or ride (in the bed) and my immediate answer was RIDE. I did not want to walk anywhere!

Over in L&D, I got my epidural at 1 a.m., and by 1:15, I was 8 cm but feeling very little pain — just basically low pressure  when I had a contraction. At 1:45, I was feeling more constant pressure in my butt, and they checked me and declared me a 9, 90% effaced, with baby at a 0 station —  just hanging out.

The epidural did slow things down, though, to where my contractions were spacing out and not strong enough to push the baby down much, which made any pushing less than effective. By my next check at 4 a.m., I was at 10 cm and fully effaced, but baby was still a 0 to -1 station. I practice pushed a bit around 5 a.m., but the nurses said if I started pushing then, I’d be pushing for two to three hours and they — nor I — didn’t want that. The nurses could see his head full of dark hair, though, which was incredible to hear.

Around 6 a.m., my midwife had them start me at Pitocin to help my contractions come stronger and closer together. They bumped that up a few times and I tried to relax and save my energy for pushing. Finally, at 7:30, my contractions were strong enough and close enough that I could effectively push. My midwife pushed with me for a bit while Mister Mister and nurse helped, then she left for a while and came back around 8:15 as I started to crown. I pushed through a few more contractions and finally he crowned – at which point the burning and pressure was so intense that I decided I couldn’t do it and said so. That, unfortunately, was not an option, and I pushed hard – and just when I thought I couldn’t do it anymore, Mister Mister exclaimed, “Baby, look!” and I looked down to see our son coming out of me. He started crying almost immediately, I stopped pushing out of shock and started crying, the midwife reminded me to keep pushing, and I pushed him the rest of the way out of me. My midwife had Mister Mister delivery the shoulders, and then had him move our baby up to my stomach while they vigorously cleaned him off. Mister Mister then cut the cord, and they moved him up to my chest for immediate skin-to-skin contact. I was so amazed and overwhelmed — I have no words. I had been so worried I wouldn’t bond with him immediately, but reality could not have been further from my fears.

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Mr. Grumpypants being weighed and measured

The first part of our hour of kangaroo care wasn’t all rainbows, though. I had to push out my placenta (no big deal) and then I was bleeding too much so my midwife had to manually help my uterus clamp down (slightly bigger deal). They were messing with the IV in my hand and gave me a shot of something in my leg. I ended up with a 2nd degree tear, and the epidural helped only slightly with the stitch pain. But then the hub bub was over and I got to nurse Little D for the first time. After about an hour, the nurse took him and weighed him, got his footprints, and helped my husband take some pictures. She helped me up to go to the bathroom (I’d had a catheter but needed to be able to pee on my own, which I did) and get cleaned up and put on the mesh hospital panties and a pad (both of which I stocked up on when leaving the hospital — the mesh panties are amazing!). Then we were wheeled over to our mother/baby room and the grandpas got to visit their grandson for the first time, with my stepmom and a friend coming later.

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Our family

 Altogether, I am so grateful to have had a relatively easy birth. The nurses and staff at our hospital and our midwife made everything as easy and wonderful as possible. All my fears throughout pregnancy — an emergency c-section, an epidural bringing an avalanche of dangerous interventions, problems with the baby, complications — all proved unfounded, showing that I probably could have stood to relax a bit over the previous nine months. My body and my baby did exactly what nature intended, and now we have a beautiful, perfectly healthy son.

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Four weeks later
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39 Weeks: Baby’s Locked and Loaded

 

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Baby is the size of: A watermelon. He was 6 pounds, 13 ounces (estimated) at my last ultrasound, so based on that, he would be 7 pounds, 10 oz today.

How far along are you: 39 weeks, 3 days

What’s happening with baby: From Babycenter, “Your baby’s waiting to greet the world! He may measure about 20 inches and weigh a bit over 7 pounds (boys tend to be slightly heavier than girls). Your baby continues to build a layer of fat to help control body temperature after birth, and the outer layers of skin are sloughing off as new skin forms underneath.”

Due date: February 3rd

Sleep: Still bad.

This week: My last doctor’s appointment showed that Bean is low and my body is preparing quite well to start evicting this child! It could still be some time before he comes — the doctors can’t predict his estimated time of arrival, despite the obvious assumption on the part of everybody in my life that they can — but it at least bodes well for things starting to pick up and going smoothly when the event does happen. We also scheduled our “just in case” induction for 5:30 a.m. on February 11. Here’s hoping we don’t need it! I’ve also had a lot of untimeable, on and off cramping and just general “feeling crappy”ness. Not many true contractions, but a few Braxton Hicks here and there.

What are you looking forward to: Bean’s arrival — just 4 more days until my due date!

Food cravings: Not much — my appetite hasn’t been awesome.

What do you miss: Feeling like a normal human being again

Symptoms: Heartburn/reflux, back pain, mood swings, hemorrhoids, constant peeing, swollen feet and fingers, irritability, gas, total exhaustion, anxiety and worry about impending parenthood, pelvic pressure, constipation (my old friend!), cramping, back aches, muscle spasms.

Gender: Boy

Belly button: Out.

Ring: Off.

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Week 38: Evicting the Baby

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Baby is the size of: A leek. He was 6 pounds, 13 ounces (estimated) at my last ultrasound, so based on that, he would be 7 pounds, 2 oz today (holy crap).

How far along are you: 38 weeks, 2 days

What’s happening with baby: From Babycenter, “Your baby has really plumped up. He weighs about 6.8 pounds and is over 19 1/2 inches long. Your baby has a firm grasp, which you’ll soon be able to test when you hold his hand for the first time. His organs have matured and are ready for life outside the womb. Wondering what color your baby’s eyes will be? You may not be able to tell right away. If your baby is born with brown eyes, they’ll likely stay brown. If he is born with steel gray or dark blue eyes, they may stay gray or blue or turn green, hazel, or brown by the time your baby is 9 months old. That’s because a child’s irises may gain more pigment in the months after birth, but they usually won’t get “lighter” or more blue.”

Due date: February 3rd

Sleep: Still horrible.

This week: We got our growth ultrasound last week — all is well with Bean, with his head growing slightly ahead and his abdomen and shoulders slightly behind, but both within normal range. He was estimated at 6 pounds, 13 ounces, which means if that’s right and he gains an ounce a day until my due date, he’ll be almost 8 pounds if he comes on time! I’ve been really blue this week for no good reason, which makes me nervous for the postpartum period in terms of depression and anxiety. I don’t know how much of it has to do with normal hormones and my total discomfort with pregnancy at this point. But otherwise, things are going well, everything is in order and waiting for Bean to arrive, and we’ve been talking to him letting him know that anytime he wants to come is fine by us.

What are you looking forward to: Bean’s arrival — just 12 more days (HOLY CRAP)!

Food cravings: Looking forward to pigging out a bit after Bean gets here (but not too much), but otherwise, I haven’t been terribly hungry or craving anything in particular.

What do you miss: Going to the bathroom without a human being punching my colon from the inside out.

Symptoms: Heartburn/reflux, back pain, mood swings, hemorrhoids, constant peeing, swollen feet and fingers, irritability, gas, total exhaustion, anxiety and worry about impending parenthood, pelvic pressure, difficulty maneuvering without holding the bottom of my stomach.

Gender: Boy

Belly button: Out.

Ring: Off.

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Week 37: This Baby Can Come Any Day Now…

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Baby is the size of: A Swiss chard. Judging from my last ultrasound, he should be 6 lbs, 7 oz today if he’s been growing on track.

How far along are you: 37 weeks, 2 days

What’s happening with baby: From Babycenter, “Your baby is now considered full term, even though your due date is three weeks away. If you go into labor now, your baby’s lungs will likely be mature enough to fully adjust to life outside the womb. … Your baby weighs 6 1/3 pounds now and measures a bit over 19 inches, head to heel. Many babies have a full head of hair at birth, with locks from 1/2 inch to 1 1/2 inches long. But don’t be surprised if your baby’s hair isn’t the same color as yours. Dark-haired couples are sometimes thrown for a loop when their children come out as blonds or redheads, and fair-haired couples have been surprised by an Elvis look-alike. And then, of course, some babies sport only peach fuzz.”

Due date: February 3rd

Sleep: Still horrible and low-quality.

This week: We went in for weekly NST last Wednesday and the midwife pulled us off and gave us an ultrasound instead, for whatever reason. I guess she thinks NSTs are useless? It’s gotten to the point where it’s really hard to make out the baby because he’s so cramped, but we did see him grabbing at his foot and saw that he has hair! He’s not very low yet. Everything else looked good and we get our next (and last) estimated weight this week at another ultrasound this week. There was a minor scare about my blood pressure/feet swelling but the feet have been better as I upped my water intake even more and started trying to prop them up more, and a second check of my blood pressure and comparison with readings further back showed no real reason for concern. I did have a moment this weekend where I thought my water had broken, but it just turns out you are losing a ton of mucus and discharge in those last few weeks. Fun! I’ve been super crampy and really wishing for this party to be over already.

What are you looking forward to: Bean’s arrival — just 20 more days (OMG)!

Food cravings: Really, not much lately. A couple of friends came over this weekend and I was all of a sudden struck with an unquenchable thirst for curry, so we went to a local British pub and I devoured an entire curry platter, naan and rice and all, and paid for it with a very slightly elevated sugar reading (141 out of 140), but it was very much worth it. And I’ve decided that we need a celebratory ice cream cake after the baby is born. But otherwise, I haven’t been very hungry and haven’t been able to eat as much.

What do you miss: Sitting around without Rocky Balboa maneuvering around inside of my stomach, going to the bathroom without incessantly looking for signs of early labor, clothes that fit (seriously, practically none of my maternity clothes fit anymore. Now THAT is humbling!).

Symptoms: Heartburn/reflux, back pain, mood swings, hemorrhoids, constant peeing, swollen feet and fingers, irritability, gas and grumbly stomach, total exhaustion, anxiety and worry about impending parenthood.

Gender: Boy

Belly button: Out.

Ring: Off.

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36 Weeks: A Crenshaw Melon Sitting on My Crotch

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Baby is the size of: A Crenshaw melon. Judging from my last ultrasound, he should be 6 lbs, 1 oz today if he’s been growing on track.

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For context.

How far along are you: 36 weeks, 2 days

What’s happening with baby: From Babycenter, “Your baby dis still packing on the pounds — at the rate of about an ounce a day. He now weighs almost 6 pounds and is more than 18 1/2 inches long. Your baby is shedding most of the downy hair that covered his body, as well as the vernix caseosa — a waxy substance that protects the skin during its nine-month bath in amniotic fluid. Your baby swallows these substances, along with other secretions, and they form a tar-like black substance called meconium, which your baby passes in his first bowel movements. At the end of this week, your baby will be considered full term. (Full term is 37 to 42 weeks; babies born before 37 weeks are preterm and those born after 42 are post term). Most likely he is in a head-down position. But if not, your practitioner may suggest scheduling an external cephalic version (This is a fancy way of saying that your caregiver will try to coax your baby into a head-down position by manipulating him from the outside of your belly).” Well thank goodness for small favors, we’re about 99 percent sure he’s still head down. Also: HOW CRAZY THAT I’M FULL TERM IN LESS THAN A WEEK?!

Due date: February 3rd

Sleep: Waking up all the time, hard to get comfortably, painful to get up from bed, totally exhausted even after eleventy billion hours of sleep.

Best moment this week: It’s all good (I’m trying to stay positive).

Worst moment this week: I could have sworn he’d dropped, even though it didn’t LOOK like he’s dropped. I’m feeling a ton of crazy pressure on my cervix and my pelvis and it feels like everything in my body is about to fall out of my vagina. And then I was told (by a knowledgeable acquaintance) that I haven’t dropped. Here’s hoping I don’t until I’m in labor, because I don’t know that I can handle much more pain or difficulty walking. I had a mini nervous breakdown Sunday morning, as I struggled to put on my sneakers while Mister Mister and our dog blissfully snored away in bed behind me. Four more weeks — or more?!?! Never has such a short time frame seemed so very long.

What are you looking forward to: Bean’s arrival — just 27 more days!

Food cravings: Everything that’s bad for me.

What do you miss: Being able to navigate around average spaces without bumping into things, not having much of an issue with public restroom doors that swing inwards toward the toilet.

Symptoms: Heartburn/reflux, back pain, mood swings, hemorrhoids, constant peeing, swollen feet and fingers, irritability, gas and grumbly stomach, total exhaustion, anxiety and worry about impending parenthood.

Gender: Boy

Belly button: Out.

Ring: Off.

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35 Weeks: Countdown to Baby and Racing Hearts

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Baby is the size of: A honeydew melon

How far along are you: 35 weeks, 3 days

What’s happening with baby: From Babycenter, “Your baby doesn’t have much room to maneuver now. He is over 18 inches long and tips the scales at 5 1/4 pounds. Because he is so snug in yourj womb, your baby isn’t likely to be doing dramatic somersaults anymore, but the number of movements you feel should remain about the same. Your baby’s kidneys are fully developed now, and his liver can process some waste products. Basic physical development is now mostly complete — your baby’s main job over the next few weeks is to put on weight.”

Due date: February 3rd

Sleep: Painful and not high-quality. Didn’t fall asleep until 2 a.m. last night — just wasn’t tired or comfortable at all.

Best moment this week: We had our second non-stress test (due to my gestational diabetes) this week and everything looked perfect. I was hooked up for a good 30 minutes this time because the midwife with whom I’d originally scheduled my appointment had to leave to deliver a baby (OK, OK, nice excuse), but my favorite OB stepped in instead. We had about 35 movements in just over half an hour, and his heartrate was based in the 140s with accelerations into the 190s — “a very healthy baby,” proclaimed the doctor. I was also told (again) that I’m a great patient because I’ve continued to check my blood sugars. I never get tired of hearing that.

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Worst moment this week: Nothing major, but I got the Group B Strep test and my first cervical exam to check for dilation. Ooh, boy. They check for Group B Strep — which roughly 25% of the adult female population carries — because if you’re a carrier, without antibiotics, your chances of passing it onto baby during labor and delivery is about 1 in 200. With antibiotics? 1 in 4,000. The test involves a swab and… intimacy. Then the doc’s fingers went in for the cervical check, which I wasn’t necessarily expecting. Very uncomfortable, but I did reassure him after he apologized that I’d need to man up anyway for what I was about to endure in roughly 4 weeks. Oh, and in case you’re curious about my cervix, I’m closed up tight and baby is high. Which is fine.

What are you looking forward to: Bean’s arrival — just 32 more days!

Food cravings: Everything, all the time.

What do you miss: Pain-free sleep and pain-free movement in general.

Symptoms: Heartburn/reflux, back pain, mood swings, hemorrhoids, constant peeing, swollen feet and fingers, irritability, gas and grumbly stomach, total exhaustion, anxiety and worry about impending parenthood.

Gender: Boy

Belly button: Out.

Ring: Off.

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34 Weeks: Passing Tests with Flying Colors

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Starting to feel like a house.

Baby is the size of: A cantaloupe

How far along are you: 34 weeks, 2 days

What’s happening with baby: From Babycenter, “Your baby now weighs about 4 3/4 pounds and is almost 18 inches long. Fat layers — which will help regulate your baby’s body temperature after birth — are filling your baby out, making him rounder. Your baby’s skin is also smoother than ever. The central nervous system is maturing, and your baby’s lungs are continuing to mature as well. If you’ve been nervous about preterm labor, you’ll be happy to know that babies born betweem 34 and 37 weeks who have no other health problems generally do fine. They may need a short stay in the neonatal nursery and may have a few short-term health issues, but i the long run, they usually do as well as full-term babies.

Due date: February 3rd

Sleep: Still not bad. Despite the very occasional bout of random insomnia, I’m falling asleep just fine and staying asleep — well, minus the 18 trips to the bathroom and to turn over to the other side, or turn off my back. But even with the constant wakeups, I’m falling back asleep fine. I’m exhausted all the time, though, so I’m wondering if the bathroom and turnover wakeups are making it so I get zero actual quality sleep.

Best moment this week: We had our first biophysical profile last Wednesday and got to see the baby again — and the radiologist surprised us by taking a few 4D peeks! That was so incredibly special, since we had decided not to pay for an elective 4D and I’m getting to the point where a 4D wouldn’t get very good images. Aside from that, all is perfect with Bean. He’s measuring right on track, his head and chest are measuring perfect, the fluid surrounding him is at a perfect level, and he passed his wellness exam with flying colors (they check stuff like blood flow, lung development, etc. because the gestational diabetes can cause delays in development). The doctor is still really happy about my blood sugars, so all seems to be going well for the time being. Then today, we had our first non-stress test. They strap a belt onto the top of your bump to measure any contractions (I had none) and one where the baby’s heartbeat is, then give you a buzzer to click every time you feel a movement so the machine knows it’s a movement and not a contraction. He moved something like 22 times in 15 minutes, so yay Bean! His heart rate responded appropriately — they look for little peaks because their heartbeats should accelerate whenever they move. It was nuts, and he sounded like he head-butted the heartbeat monitor a few times. Mister Mister was very impressed!

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Bean, up close and personal, sucking on his limbs.

Worst moment this week: Honestly, I’ve been feeling kind of down for no apparent reason. It’s not exactly depression (I’ve had plenty of experience there) but I could not get myself at all excited for Christmas despite it being one of my very favorite times of year. I just kept dreading how anticlimactic it would be — and it was, even though I did end up getting a bit into the spirit of things at the end. Four-day weekends are always great so I don’t know why all I keep thinking is, “Yeah just xx more days and it’s back to work.” Even though work isn’t all that bad because it’s so (purposely) slow and my pre-leave work is all pretty much done. I don’t know if I’m getting too nervous and anxious about impending parenthood (and honestly, the “yeah, it doesn’t get much better once the baby is here” input I’ve been getting isn’t at ALL helpful) or what, but I’m ready for the funk to be over. Hey, bright spot — another 4-day weekend is coming up in just a few days.

What are you looking forward to: Bean’s arrival — just 39 more days!

Food cravings: Craving sweets and bad food like nobody’s business.

What do you miss: A carefree state of being.

Symptoms: Heartburn/reflux, back pain, mood swings, some blues, hemorrhoids, constipation, constant peeing, swollen feet, irritability, gas and grumbly stomach, total exhaustion, anxiety and worry about impending parenthood.

Gender: Boy

Belly button: Out.

Ring: Off.

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33-Week Update: Emotional Meltdowns

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Baby is the size of: A pineapple (finally, a fruit I can visualize!)

How far along are you: 33 weeks, 1 day

What’s happening with baby: From Babycenter, “This week your baby weighs a little over 4 pounds and has passed the 17-inch mark. He is rapidly loosing that wrinkled, alien look. Your baby’s skeleton is hardening. The bones in his skull aren’t fused together, which allows them to move and slightly overlap. This makes it easier for your baby to fit through the birth canal. (The pressure on the head during birth is so intense that many babies are born with a conehead-like appearance.) These bones don’t entirely fuse until early adulthood, so they can grow as your child’s brain and other tissues expand during infancy and childhood.”

Due date: February 3rd

Sleep: Saturday night, I went to bed at 8:30 in the morning and woke up at 1… and proceeded to basically lay there until 5:30. Since Sunday was my shower, I was a total wreck, but I’ve managed to sleep OK the past few nights, so hopefully it was a fluke.

Best moment this week: My shower! Many lovely ladies came out to shower Bean and I with thoughtful gifts. It was so fun getting together with my girlfriends and being the general center of attention.

Worst moment this week: More emotional meltdowns over my blood sugar, which is rising a bit due to progesterone peaking. I’ve been told they’ll stabilize from here on out, so let’s hope that’s the case. More emotional meltdowns in general. I’m just getting tired of pretty much everything.

What are you looking forward to: Bean’s arrival — just 48 more days!

Food cravings: Not much. I’m hungry a lot, but can’t eat much in one sitting. I’ve been craving a lot of calcium, and sweets, of course. I would love a Big Mac.

What do you miss: Not being physically exhausted all the time, a good week without a nervous breakdown (or two, or 18).

Symptoms: Heartburn/reflux, back pain, mood swings, hemorrhoids, constant peeing, swollen feet, irritability turned up to 11, gas, some insomnia, exhaustion.

Gender: Boy

Belly button: Out.

Ring: Off.

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32 Week Update: My Bellybutton is My Butthole

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Baby is the size of: A large jicama (not just a regular-sized one, but a LARGE one)

How far along are you: 32 weeks, 1 day

What’s happening with baby: From Babycenter, “By now, your baby weighs 3.75 pounds and is about 16.7 inches long, taking up a lot of space in your uterus. You’re gaining about a pound a week and roughly half of that goes right to your baby. In fact, your little one will gain a third to half of his or her birth weight during the next seven weeks as he fattens up for survival outside the womb. Your baby now has toenails, fingernails, and real hair (or at least respectable peach fuzz). The skin on your baby’s body is becoming soft and smooth as he plumps up in preparation for birth.”

Due date: February 3rd

Sleep: Quantity is fine; quality sucks. I’m exhausted all the time now after having a few good weeks of energy.

Best moment this week: Definitely getting the good news from our doctor that my blood sugar numbers are looking good. We also installed the car seat, which took us about 30 minutes as opposed to the 4-6 hours our childbirth instructor had warned us it should take (still no clue why it would ever take that long). Just need to get it inspected now!

Worst moment this week: Honestly, not a lot of bad moments this week!

What are you looking forward to: My shower on Sunday!

Food cravings: Carbs. Cake. Pie. All stuff I can’t eat (natch).

What do you miss: Being able to get comfortable without nonstop wrenching back pain accompanied by a rippling tummy (not that I’m complaining about baby movements!).

Symptoms: Heartburn/reflux, back pain, mood swings, hemorrhoids, belly numbness, belly itching, constant peeing, swollen feet, absolutely and total steroid-level irritability.

Gender: Boy

Belly button: I’m calling it out. It looks like a butthole, which is totally gross.

Ring: Off.

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Holiday Gift Guide: Picks for the Brand-New or Soon-to-Be Mama In Your Life

Now, I’m no mom yet, but when my husband asked me to make a wish list of Christmas gifts for him to go off of, you could certainly tell what was foremost on my mind. Being due in February, my main concerns are upcoming comfort and style, along with personal items like jewelry and beauty products — with a mom-ly twist.

Based off my own wish list, then — and with the caveat that a lot of my reasoning is based on “I’ve heard” and “I think” — here is a gift guide for the brand-new or soon-to-be mama.

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1. Your Name Here Silk Necklace ($400 14K gold, $80 gold fill or sterling silver, COATT). I still think this is the most ingenious and stylish piece of “my kid’s name” jewelry — way better than any birthstone or silhouette concept. I’m too superstitious to ask for this before I even have the baby, but I would love to own it at some point — in fact, a certain somebody has a birthday coming up in August (*hint*hint*wink*wink*).

2. Vintage Kaleidoscope Locket ($65, Etsy). I love lockets. I don’t even put anything in them, but I love the idea of a piece of jewelry you put sentimental stuff in, and a locket necklace is especially sweet, with a visual memento close to your heart. This is a really stylin’ locket that would make any new mama look totally hip, even when she pops it open to show you a picture of the dreaded drooling babe. Bonus: a shiny toy to distract babe when upset/fussy/etc.

3. Kate Spade New York “Idiom” Ultra Thin Bangle ($32, Nordstrom). This is a really sweet way to get the new or to-be mama in your life a one-of-a-kind piece engraved with her child’s name or a simple phrase to remind her of all she means to you. It’s especially sweet that whatever you choose to engrave it hidden against her wrist, known only to you and her — and whomever she chooses to show.

4. Timex Weekender Strap watch ($53, Timex). I never wear watches, but I’ve been on a watches kick lately. I’ve been pinning awesome watches left and right — perhaps because the mama-to-be in me knows that there will soon enough be plenty of appointments and more reason to keep time than “I need to meet a friend at Starbucks in 15”? My hands won’t always be so free as to reach for my iPhone when needing to check a clock.

5. Enamel Locket ($90, Alder & Co.). Another amazing locket piece that is so simple and so chic.

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6. Bobbi Brown Beach Body Oil ($30, Bloomingdale’s). All I want to do is pamper myself, and after giving birth to another human being, I’ll totally deserve it. All I hear about is the postpartum period where all of a sudden you smell like blood and pee (yours and another person’s) and milk and spit up and your body odor changes and you barely have time to shower. Wouldn’t this be wonderful to slather all over after a quickie shower to make her feel totally special and pretty?

7. NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer ($42, Beauty.com). I am one of those chicks who can’t leave the house without makeup. It’s not that I’m vain (OK, I guess it is that I am), but I have had bad acne since I was 13, and so I’m a little sensitive about my breakouts and red marks. While my routine isn’t exactly in-depth — just some mineral foundation and powder, blush, mascara, and lipstick — I have the feeling there will be even less time for it soon. A beauty balm like this would be amazing and cut things into fractions.

8. Motherlove Sitz Bath ($14.25, Amazon.com). I love the idea of a postpartum kit for new mamas, a little basket of items they can use to make themselves feel so much better. Made from organic ingredients like sea salt, witch hazel herb, and yarrow, this is formulated to soothe the perineum, slow bleeding, reduce swelling, and ease hemorrhoids. Plus, it has a zero rating on EWG’s skin deep database. Isn’t that so much nicer than Epsom salts?

9. Clinique “All About Eyes Serum” De-Puffing Eye Massage ($28, Nordstrom). OK, so you might not want to give this as a gift if it’s not specifically asked for (it’s sort of like saying, “You look like shit, here, take care of that… please.”) but it is such a thoughtful addition to the new mama’s beauty repertoire. Because as much as I have no plans to leave the house for some time after birth and think I really won’t care all that much about my appearance, we’ll have enough visitors that I wouldn’t kick a product like this out of my cosmetic bag.

10. Drawstring Jersey Pants ($34.95, GAP). Yeah, I want to live in pajamas for at least six weeks after giving birth… but lounge pants are at least classy enough that you’re not welcoming close friends and family in your ratty jammies. Plus, I’m awfully sick of the same two pajama bottoms that have fit me for the past six months.

11. New Mama Bottom Spray ($14.95, Earth Mama Angel Baby). I live by the Earth Mama Bottom Balm for certain prenatal… um… *conditions*, so it stands to reason that this blend of water, witch hazel, cucumber, kosher vegetable glycerin, and lavender and peppermint oil will be just the thing a new mama needs to soothe herself without feeling like she smells like a pharmacy.

12. Maddox Zip Clutch ($75, Fossil). This isn’t really baby-related, true, but I really need a new wallet and I love the pop of color and mod design of this one. OK, maybe I can make it baby related — I need a bigger wallet to show off all those pictures of Bean when he comes. (Do people even carry pictures in their wallet anymore? Oh, well — I’m going with it).

13. Medela Sleep Bra (from $14, Amazon.com). I’m planning on breastfeeding, and if the experience of others is any indication, I’m going to be quite large and sore in just a short handful of weeks. These sleep bras come highly rated and would be the perfect little piece of soft sleepwear for that soon-to-be mommy.

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14. Handpainted Still Life Monogram ($48, Anthropologie). I’m always on the lookout for fun design pieces for the home, and I love how versatile these are. You could buy just the new baby’s initial, or spell out their name, or spell words like “Love” or “Home” — anything that might strike the new mama’s heart.

15. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Standard AutoFocus Lens ($104.99, Amazon.com). Known as the “nifty fifty,” this is a great, cheap little lens for taking indoor shots — like, oh, of a newborn baby? Since I just bought a Canon T2i a few months ago, I would love something like this to add to my camera bag — especially since we opted not to purchase a newborn photo session.

16. Felix Weekender Duffle ($137, Deux Luxe). How amazing would the mama-to-be in your life feel waltzing into the hospital with a bag like this to hold all her daily essentials? Birth is gonna be a big ol’ deal, and I would love to add a little sparkle to my stay.

17. The Graphic Canon, Vol. 3: From Heart of Darkness to Hemingway to Infinite Jest ($21.47,  Amazon.com). Along with a plethora of movies and television shows, I myself would love something to read — but who will have time with a new baby? Something like this that’s more visual and easy to digest might be just the thing that the literary mama in your life needs to distract her from the trials of early childhood.

18. Nursing Shawl (42, Seraphine). Most nursing coverups, to me, scream “I’m nursing under here.” And while it’s really not that big of a deal, I love something a little more sophisticated and soft like this bamboo/viscose blend. It can be used six ways — as a nursing shawl, a poncho, a scarf, a cape, a wrap, or a swaddling blanket — which makes it a huge bang for your buck.

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19. One Line a Day: A Five-Year Memory Book ($11.53, Amazon.com). I love journals, especially as gifts, and something like this is just perfect for the new mama with no time to jot down all of her thoughts. I adore the idea of taking down just one line a day and then being able to look back five whole years at how things have changed.

20. San Ysidro Hobo diaper bag ($299, Danzo). Diaper bags are either really crappy looking, or super expensive. I’ve found maybe one affordable one that I would be able to stand carrying around (I’m a snob, I know). This one totally would break my bank, but it’s so incredibly gorgeous. All of Danzo’s bags are amazing, but I love the lines and color of this one in particular. And since I don’t plan on carrying a purse in addition to a diaper bag, I need all my style in one.

21. World Map art print ($56, Famille Summerbelle). As different decor items catch my eye lately, I find myself thinking about how they tie in with a new little human. This beautiful print is great for adults and children, looking so modern but imparting plenty of education. It would look great in a living room and playroom alike.

22. Pendleton Eco-Wise Wool Washable Plaid Blanket ($118, Amazon). The baby’s already got plenty of blankets — swaddling blankets, receiving blankets, handmade blankets, hand-me-down blankets. What about mama? As I cozy up on the couch with Bean or cat nap while he naps (hopefully), a cozy Pendleton blanket is just the thing I’ll need to make me feel safe and warm — even if only for 5 minutes at a time.

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23. Luxury Plus Slippers ($32, Restoration Hardware). I love slippers, and I have none. We have two pets and I never get around to cleaning more frequently than once a week, so I always get dust and dirt on the bottom of my feet when walking around, which makes me feel gross (our house isn’t that dirty, but come on, we don’t have a maid or anything). I caught word that these are the most wonderful slippers around, and am now totally lusting after a pair to take me throw those postpartum days.

24. Kimono Style Robe ($65, Plum Pretty Sugar). Who doesn’t appreciate a pretty robe to lift the spirits? Again, since I’ll likely be living in pajamas and loungewear for an indeterminate amount of time come February, a beautiful robe from Plum Pretty Sugar totally fits the bill for helping me feel comfy but put together enough for company.

25. Tieks ($165, Tieks). The next best thing to slippers, these super-comfy flats are great for all occasions, from lounging around the house to grabbing the mail to taking a walk around the park with the new little one. They’re even great for those late third trimester days when nothing but flip flops fit (seriously, I had to buy a new pair of pumps for my baby shower just because none of my shoes fit, so I’m hoping this new size my feet have arrived at is a permanent deal, because even though the pumps were a $30 Target deal, I’d hate to have spent that money just for a few swollen weeks here at the end).

26. Lace-Waist Hiphugger Panty ($10.50, Victoria’s Secret). OK, here’s the deal: None of my underwear truly fits. I can make most of it work, but it’s just basically covering the barest of essentials. These are so pretty, don’t slip, and in cotton, are basic enough to comfily hug even the sorest of lady bits. Once the new mama in your life can transition from granny panties, a bagful of these would be much appreciated.

27. Netflix subscription (from $4.99/month, Netflix.com). OK, this wasn’t on my wish list because I already have Netflix, but you can bet your sweet bippy that I’ve saved pretty much every TV show known to man, from Cheers to Felicity to LOST, for viewing pleasure during those initial weeks of nonstop nursing and sleeplessness.

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